The Children's Home of Lubbock, which provides adoption, foster care and other family services, has fired an employee simply because of his sexual orientation. Children's Home knew that childcare worker Casey Stegall was gay. But when he introduced his fiancé to some of the children he worked with, he was fired over his “lifestyle choices,” the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal reports.
“I got fired just for being who I am,” Stegall said.
According to Children's Home President Lynn Harms, “As a faith-based, church-related outreach providing welfare services, if you will, to children and families, there is a set of biblical values that we adhere to and live by. When you are implementing life training and so forth – particularly with children – to put a confused message out there is counterproductive.”
“If you want to try to force our culture to meet your expectations, that's not going to go well,” Harms continued. “I don't feel like the culture here has to meet an individual's desire for the world to be different.”
Read about Stegall's response and his options for recourse after the jump.Workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation is unfortunately still perfectly legal in most of Texas. Only six cities and one county have extended protections to those discriminated against based on sexual orientation: Austin, Dallas and Dallas County, El Paso, Fort Worth, San Antonio and Houston. Lubbock is not among them.
According to Rebecca Robertson of the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas, “I think that a lot of people think that because we all deserve a fair shake at work that it must be illegal to discriminate against somebody because he is gay. That's not true.”
Nonetheless, Stegall is hoping to sue his former employer to send a message about workplace discrimination. But no attorneys have been willing to take on his case at this point. “I want my case out there – even if I lose,” Stegall said. “I want my case out there so that people know that this is happening to people like me.”
Stegall's role was to care for children who had never experienced a positive family atmosphere, and over his past year of employment he had a spotless record and very positive reviews.
Stegall blogged about the experience in the Christian LGBT blog Believe Out Loud:
I Am A Gay Christian Who Was Fired Because Of My “Lifestyle Choices”
My name is Casey Stegall, and I am a 22-year-old full time college student at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas.
The work I poured my heart and soul into over the past fourteen months was ripped away from me in a flash.
I am currently in college to be a Child Life Specialist, and had been working as a child caregiver at the Children's Home of Lubbock, a Church of Christ nonprofit residential treatment center for at risk children to hone my skills and abilities as I advance in my career.
But on July 10th, I was called into the president's office, and he told me: “I am uncomfortable with having you on my team because of your lifestyle choices,” and I was subsequently fired.
Hearing those words come out of his mouth made my heart sink. God placed it in my heart to help and love children, and that is what I do best-I cared for and loved every child I came into contact with. Now that source of livelihood has been taken from me, and I have been struggling with feelings of hatred, betrayal, and discrimination.
I didn't even get a chance to defend myself.
My fiancé and I have been together for 3 years, and we have never once showed any display of public affection towards each other. Living in a very conservative town, we knew the risk we were taking as a couple.
When the president found out I was gay, I feel he did whatever he could do to get rid of me. Even the support of my direct supervisor, who joined us for this meeting, could not protect me. “He is the best employee I have ever hired,” she told him. All of this was to no avail.
After this heartbreaking meeting, the president told me that I could use him as a reference for future employment elsewhere, and that he “would council me in the future to keep my lifestyle hidden.” I will not be following his instruction, due to the fact that I don't want a reference from someone who doesn't think fondly of me and who openly discriminates. This is who God made me to be, and I will not step back in the closet.
I still can't believe that in the year 2014, discrimination is still prevalent and affecting so many LGBTQ people across this country.
The word needs to get out there that this is still happening. People need to know that this is hurting so many people who don't deserve it. Discrimination is wrong, and it needs to stop.
I have spoken to many lawyers around here to take my case, but unfortunately, no one will because of Texas' Religious Exemption Act, which makes my firing completely legal. I am not here to slander or hurt anyone-I just want the word to get out so people know this is happening.
I know God has a plan and a purpose for my fiancé and I, and I will not deter from him. He will open new doors for me. I know God will be there with us every step of the way.
Discrimination in the workforce needs to end, and I hope you can stand by me in the battle to see an end to it in this country.
I would like to ask for prayers and support for my fiancé and I as I search for a new job. Times are extremely tough, and finding Believe Out Loud has been such a blessing to us. It is wonderful to meet other Christians who share my belief that God placed us on this earth to love and cherish everyone, no matter what background they come from.
Thank you, and God Bless!